American International School of Thessaloniki, Greece

Winter Holiday Letter 2014

  December 2014

 Season’s Greetings!

Dear Pinewood Families and Friends,

The holidays are always a time for reflection of our accomplishments. This helps us appreciate the gems in life for which we are thankful. At Pinewood, we are so very blessed to have a superbly diverse and caring student body and supportive families who contribute to the well-being of our school. Following are my wishes for each of you.

Our Early Years Program, ages 3, 4 and 5, shined during their holiday show, “A Children’s Choir.” All who have contact with our young children will surely agree that early childhood reminds us of all that is priceless in life. Their smiles, their songs and their hugs are invaluable. Thus, my first holiday wish is for you to be joyously reminded of those things that are priceless in your own life.


As we await this week’s production of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by our Elementary students in Grades 1-5, we look forward to a night full of seasonal cheer. Indeed, our Elementary students’ creativity and spirited laughter help remind us that these are the elements that make life exciting. Thus, my second holiday wish is that you find time to create something together with your child that brings laughter to your hearts.


Our Secondary students, in Grades 6–12, are truly making us proud with their wealth of philanthropic work this year. Our students have already participated in a marathon run to raise awareness for human trafficking and collected books in different languages for the A21 safe house. 


Currently, our students are:

(1)   Collecting medicine for the Thermi Social Solidarity Clinic (drop off your medicine donation in the special boxes in the school offices)

(2)   Collecting food for the Salvation Army of Thessaloniki (click here for details of how to contribute)

(3)   Collecting donations via an online fundraiser for a local animal shelter (click here for the student-created video about the project)

(4)   Collecting donations for the children’s shelter Hamogelo tou Paidiou (drop off your donation in the special box at the reception desk)

My third holiday wish is that each of you donate to one or more of our students’ generous charity projects by the end of the week!

Peaceful blessings to each of our Pinewood families and friends this holiday season!

Most sincerely,

Dr. Roxanne Giampapa

Dr. Giampapa's News (March 2014)

Red Cross Seminar for Faculty/Staff

As part of our continued Health & Safety upgrades in the school, three of our faculty/staff members, Kathy Lekkas (EYP), Catherine Theodorou (EYP), Carolyn Tzimoulis (staff) and one student, Konstantinos Kouzounis, participated in a Red Cross Seminar last month and earned a certification in First Aid and CPR. Niki Tzivanaki (EYP-Elementary) has already earned her certification earlier this year and Petroula Rosiou (staff) will attend a seminar later in March. Thank you all for your dedication to making Pinewood a more safe, healthy environment for all.

Congratulations to our Newest National Honor Society Members

Last month, we had the honor of inducting our newest members into Pinewood’s Chapter of the National Honor Society. Joining us for this important occasion was Mr. David Gibson, former English teacher and eternal friend of Pinewood. Mr. Gibson’s keynote speech outlined several significant vignettes from his own life that serve as guideposts for all students. A big thank you to Mr. Gibson for his inspiring words and congratulations to the following students for their achievements in academics, leadership, service and character:

Martin Salamon-Paven ‘14

Maria Doukopoulou ‘15

Smaragda Spyrou ‘15

Konstantinos Kouzounis ‘16

Ludovica Lunigiani ‘16

Galini Poimenidou ‘16

Maria Poimenidou ‘16

Pinewood MUN Team Shows its Best

Students participated in the annual ACMUN conferences again this year with participation for which we are all very proud.  The results this year continue to lift the team's status to new levels as our own Marco Bustamante ’14 served a successful term as President of the General Assembly (and having the privilege of introducing Mr. Nikos Margaropoulos, President, Pinewood Board of Directors, who opened the General Assembly this year). Equally notable were Elissavet Chartampila, Konstantinos Kehriotis and Savvas Sfairopoulos, who each earned 'Best Delegate' awards in their respective committees. Andrea Arivella continued the noted success by earning 'Honorable Mention' for his outstanding work in the EU Council. Christina Constantinou and Tony Pilato both rounded out the Pinewood experience by showing great effort and leadership as Moderators and chairs in their committees. Congratulations to all members for their wonderful work with MUN.

Book Week

The last week of February is Book Week at Pinewood and our students participated in a full range of activities from EYP to High School. In the EYP, students celebrated the lovely British children’s series, Peppa Pig, and in the Elementary School, students focused on quality reading and created a very long crocodile displaying the books that they read. In the Middle School, students enjoyed an hour of reading every day, presented on the topic of how reading enriches our experiences and participated in a poetry seminar led by Sean Beckett, visiting poet and recent graduate of Yale University. Our High School students also enjoyed participating in a poetry workshop led by Mr. Beckett and presented outstanding literary analyses of Fahrenheit 451, the 1953 classic dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. Although Book Week is only once a year, our goal in ‘highlighting’ reading during this important week is to engage students for the other 51 weeks of the year in reading with pleasure!

MAP® Testing Begins

During the months of March and April, all children in Grades 3-10 will take tests called Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®). This is the first year that Pinewood is administering this innovative standardized test which are given to determine each child’s instructional level and to measure academic growth throughout the school year, and from year to year in the areas of Reading, Language Use, Mathematics and Science. This year, students in Grades 3-9 will take all 4 subject-area tests and students in Grade 10 will take Science only (as they have taken the PSAT test this year which measures Reading, Writing and Mathematics). More information will be sent home before testing begins.

Parent-Teacher Conferences: Thursday, March 13 from 17:00 – 20:00

Pinewood parents are invited to participate in our second Parent-Teacher Conferences scheduled for Thurday, March 13 from 17:00–20:00 at the school.

EYP & Elementary parents have been assigned designated conference times and are asked to kindly be on time for these meetings.

Grade 6-12 parents will conference with teachers in their classrooms on a first come first serve basis and should keep their meetings with each teacher to no more than 10 minutes.

As always, if you require a discussion with a teacher longer than the allotted time given on this day, you may make an appointment at that time with the teacher or through Ms. Petroula at the reception.

Communication with your child’s teachers is one of the best ways to ensure academic success and your attendance at Parent-Teacher Conferences is wholly encouraged. We look forward to seeing you on this evening!

A21 Awareness Run

The A21 Campaign (, an organization located in Thessaloniki, is a non-profit organization that works to prevent human trafficking through awareness and education. As part of their awareness mission, they are hosting an Awareness Run on Sunday, April 6. Students of all ages and their parents and friends are welcome and encouraged to participate. In order to make registration easy for you, we will have a representative from The A21 Campaign, Melissa Johnson, stationed at school on March 11 & 18 during lunch in the reception area to register interested students, parents and friends. The last day to sign up for the Run is March 19th. The cost is just 15 Euro and includes a T-shirt! Elementary students can sign up for the 1K Run and Secondary students can sign up for the 5K Run.


  • Please be sure to visit our ACTIVITIES page to view the After School Activities schedule each Friday of the month.
  • There will be NO SCHOOL on Monday, March 3 in observance of Clean Monday.
  • Also, there will be NO SCHOOL on Tuesday, March 25 in observance of Greek Independence Day.
  • Trimester 2 Ends for EYP and Elementary students on Friday, March 7. Report Cards will be distributed during Parent-Teacher Conferences on Thursday, March 13.
  • The March Board of Directors meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 11 at 18:00 in the Conference Room.
  • Quarter 3 Ends in the Secondary School (Grades 6-12) on Friday, March 21. Report Cards will be distributed on Wednesday, April 2.
  • The Pinewood Forensics team will be traveling to Athens to compete in the Panhellenic Forensics Tournament on March 27 – 30. For questions, please contact Mr. Ian Harrington, Forensics Advisor (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • The US Embassy will be in Thessaloniki to take care of passport and other services related to American citizens on March 5-6. Appointments are necessary (and mostly filled at this point). For more information, please visit the following website link:
  • Visit our HOME page to read more about our MUN team, Book Week presentations and more.
  • Also, visit our Photo Gallery to see this month’s additions!

Dr. Roxanne Giampapa

Dr. Giampapa's News (February 2014)

Managing Media: How to Help Children Make Good Choices

At Pinewood, mobile phones and other electronic devices not related to educational use are prohibited in the classroom. However, we see more and more that students want to use devices during breaks and lunchtime, especially those that offer access to games and social media. As a school, we encourage innovative use of technology to help students learn and we have strict rules about what content may be accessed on devices. However, it takes a home-school partnership to address appropriate media use in young people.

In this abridged article from the American Academy of Pediatrics website (, experts offer guidance on managing children’s and adolescents’ media use.

From TV to smart phones to social media, the lives of U.S. [and European] children and families are dominated by 24/7 media exposure. Despite this, many children and teens have few rules around their media use. According to a revised policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Children, Adolescents and the Media,” the digital age is the ideal time to change the way we address media use. 

While media by itself is not the leading cause of any health problems, it can contribute to numerous health risks. At the same time, kids can learn many positive things from pro-social media.  

“A healthy approach to children’s media use should both minimize potential health risks and foster appropriate and positive media use—in other words, it should promote a healthy ‘media diet’,” said Marjorie Hogan, MD, co-author of the AAP policy. “Parents, educators and pediatricians should participate in media education, which means teaching children and adolescents how to make good choices in their media consumption.” 

According to the AAP, excessive media use has been associated with obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behavior issues. A recent study shows that the average 8- to 0-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Kids who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media. About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging. 

The amount of time spent with screens is one issue, and content is another. On the positive side, pro-social media not only can help children and teens learn facts, but it can also help teach empathy, racial and ethnic tolerance, and a whole range of interpersonal skills. 

“For nearly three decades, the AAP has expressed concerns about the amount of time that children and teenagers spend with media, and about some of the content they are viewing,” said Victor Strasburger, MD, co-author of the report. “The digital age has only made these issues more pressing.” 

The AAP policy statement offers recommendations for parents, including:

For Parents:

  • Parents can model effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.

  • Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices.

  • Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms. 

  • Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under 2, discourage all screen media exposure.

More information for parents on creating a family media use plan is available at 

Student Teachers

I am delighted to welcome our two newest student teachers from the United States this term. Emily Suber is working with Liza Tziatas in Grade 1 and Meg Wilkins is working with Emily Johnston in Grade 2.

Ms. Emily Suber is currently enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Georgia. Upon graduating with her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Music Performance, she moved west in the United States to pursue mountaineering and outdoor recreation. She worked at a Family camp and experienced some of the most rich opportunities to educate families and their children while completing challenging tasks that took place in the outdoor setting. She thoroughly enjoyed teaching these families, however she most enjoyed working with the children. After her time there, she decided to continue her education, and pursue Early Childhood Education with a focus on Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, where the bulk of her research involves working with refugee and migrant families and students. As Emily says, “I feel as though Pinewood is an appropriate setting, and I have grown in my knowledge of working with students from various backgrounds, skills and tongues. It is an honor to be considered to complete my internship here.”

Ms. Meg Wilkins is from Athens, Georgia where she attends the University of Georgia. She is currently completing her Master’s degree in Elementary Education, with a personal interest in international education and Montessori methods. As Meg states, “Student teaching at Pinewood this semester is a good fit, as I am enjoying the intimate class sizes, friendly community, and the opportunity to learn new pedagogy practices. Also, as I enjoy traveling and exploring nature, I am hoping to experience more of the climate, culture, and delicious food in Greece. I'd love to meet you, so make sure to come visit us in the second grade!”

National Honor Society

Last Wednesday, students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 who meet the academic requirement for admittance to Pinewood’s Chapter of the National Honor Society were notified and given admittance materials. These materials are an important part of the process for membership to NHS. On Wednesday, February 19 during Seminar hour at 12:15, our annual NHS Induction Ceremony will take place.

The purpose of NHS is to create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership and to develop character in the students in high schools around the world.

The four criteria on which NHS is built are defined as follows:

Scholarship: Students must have a cumulative grade point average of 85% or higher from grade 9 and maintain that average through grade 12.

Service: This quality is defined as the voluntary contributions made by a student to the school or community, without direct financial or material compensation to the student.

Leadership: Student leaders are often viewed as those students who are resourceful, good problem solvers, involved in and promoters of school activities, idea contributors, dependable and who are both organized and organizers.

Character: The student of good character can be said to be one who upholds principles of morality and ethics; is cooperative and responsible; demonstrates high standards of honesty and reliability; shows courtesy, concern and respect for others; and is a good citizen.

National Honor Society is the single most prestigious organization for high school students and our induction ceremony on February 19 will be in line with these high standards. Tradition holds that the inductees do not know who they are until the moment they are called forward for induction. This adds an additional level of anticipation for the ceremony.

We welcome all parents to attend this special event. Those who have a son or daughter being inducted will be notified prior, but asked to keep the news confidential. We also welcome Mr. David Gibson, who will deliver the keynote speech at this year’s ceremony.

Pinewood International Baccalaureate (IB) Scholars Program 2013-2014

It is with great pleasure that we open next year’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Scholars Program on February 20. All incoming grade 11 (current grade 10) students, who will be given a special presentation on this day, are eligible to apply. The selected IB scholars will receive between 20% and 80% tuition fee scholarships and one 100% Costas Yiakoumis scholarship, all for the duration of the two years of IB Diploma studies. We invite you to visit our International Baccalaureate (IB) page on the website for details about the scholarship competition.

Pinewood Introduces New Standardized Testing this Spring: Grades 3-10

The administration of external standardized testing is a hallmark of good school practices. It allows administration, faculty, parents and students to understand

During the months of March and April, students in Grades 3-10 will take a newly adopted standardized test called Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®). The purpose of the MAP testing is to determine each child’s instructional level and to measure academic growth throughout the school year, and from year to year in the areas of Reading, Language Use, Mathematics and Science.

MAP tests are unique in that they are computerized adaptive tests that adjust to the level of each child’s level of learning. As a result, each student has the same opportunity to succeed and maintain a positive attitude toward testing. And with MAP tests, we can administer shorter tests and use less class time while still receiving detailed, accurate information about each child’s growth. Following each testing period, parents will receive a report showing their child’s growth.

We are truly excited to begin a new era that focuses on every child’s individual growth and achievement. Partnering to help all kids learn, parents and teachers can have a profound positive effect on the lives of our children.

More information regarding testing days and results will follow. For specific information on resources for parents, download the Parent Toolkit at

Pineword Student Newspaper: Winter Edition 2014

Extra! Extra! Read the Winter Edition of PINEWORD, the student newspaper, this month! Pinewood's Journalism Club, under the supervision of Mrs. Hartofillis, allow students to give their perspective on any local and global issues which they deem newsworthy, but also encourages student interest through entertaining columns such as Agony Aunt and Horoscopes.

You will also find it on our website here.

Salvation Army and HSS

During the last days of school in December, the High School Student Council cooperated with the Salvation Army of Thessaloniki to organize a food drive. It was the most meaningful project of the year that filled us with hope and love. Through this project, HSSC and the rest of the student body proved that they care and are aware of the harsh conditions in which many people are living because of the ongoing crisis.

That day, when the Salvation Army volunteers came to pick all of the items, we heard stories of people who were in terrible places in their lives but can now make their own steps with the help of the Salvation Army. Giving gifts and then receiving some is a wonderful feeling but the feeling you get when you give to those that can only give back their love is incomparable.

As Mother Teresa said, “Charity isn't about pity, it is about love; charity and love are the same – with charity you give love, so don't just give money but reach out your hand instead.” We should be concerned not only for the people we love but also for those that need our help. Together, we can change the world by doing our part to make it a better place.  

High School Student Council Members

Monthly Reminders

  • Please be sure to visit our ACTIVITIES page to view the After School Activities schedule for each week of the month.

  • Don't forget to visit our Home page to read the articles about the Middle School visit to the Museums of Byzantine Culture and the YMCA, our Elementary Winter Olympics, our Chinese New Year in Grade 2, the Ocean 180 Video Competition in Grade 6 and more!

  • Also, visit our Photo Gallery to see the additions, including photos from last Wednesday's Seminar Assembly, our EYP Christmas Show, Winter Concert, Elementary Drama Production, the 2nd Annual Student Photography Competition and more!

  • Friday, February 14 will be an EARLY DISMISSAL DAY for students, who will be dismissed at 12:00, as teachers participate in one of our annual professional development days. Buses will run regularly at 12:00 for all riders and no activities will take place on this day.

  • Book Week will take place February 24 – 28 throughout the school. Students will participate in various literature-focused activities, including individual and group reading projects and presentations.

Dr. Roxanne Giampapa